Diet Quality through Adolescence and Early Adulthood: Cross-Sectional Associations of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet Index and Component Food Groups with Age.

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Winpenny, Eleanor M 
Greenslade, Stephanie 
van Sluijs, Esther MF 

Late adolescence to early adulthood is the period of life when prevalence of overweight and obesity rises the fastest, and an important time to understand changes in dietary risk factors. In this study we assess the variation in diet quality through analysis of cross-sectional data from 2957 individuals aged 13 to 30 from the National Diet and Nutrition Study (2008⁻2016). Diet data were self-reported using four-day food diaries and coded to give diet quality using the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) index (range 0⁻80) and DASH component food groups (grams/day). The mean DASH index score was low at 34.8 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 34.3⁻35.4). The regression of diet quality score and food groups on age categories revealed no significant change in diet quality score with age category in males, but an improved diet quality score among females aged 19⁻21 (β = 2.04, 95% CI = 0.05⁻4.02), 25⁻27 (β = 3.77, 95% CI = 1.36⁻6.18) and 28⁻30 (β = 2.39, 95% CI = 0.53⁻4.26), compared to age 13⁻15. Both sexes showed increased vegetable intake with age. Dairy intake was lower in early adult ages among males, while in females there was an increase in the proportion of low-fat dairy consumed with age. Further research should address the determinants of changes in diet in early adulthood to provide evidence for the targeting of public health policy.

adolescence, age, dairy, diet quality, early adulthood, fruit, vegetables, Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Cross-Sectional Studies, Dairy Products, Diet, Diet Records, Diet Surveys, Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension, Female, Food, Humans, Male, Nutrition Assessment, Sex Factors, Vegetables, Young Adult
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Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/7)
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/G007462/1)
Funding The work was undertaken by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged. This work was additionally supported by the Medical Research Council [Unit Programme number MC_UU_12015/7]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. This is listed on the preprint site ( and will be on the published version too